Thinkware U1000 4K Dashcam Review
Thinkware U1000 Dashcam£529
- Easy to install
- Great quality from both cameras
- Save to app and to microSD
- Option for hardwire or use 12v port
- Could lower insurance premium
- Did need instructions for Hotspot tethering
- Need professional fitter for hardwiring
Review of the Thinkware U1000 4K and 2K Dashcam Bundle
We have been testing out the latest U1000 4K dashcam from Thinkware, and we are mightily impressed.
While at IFA earlier this year we chatted to the folks at Thinkware and they were pretty proud of their U1000 dashcam. So much so, they got us excited enough to ask to test it out.
We fitted it to our imported Honda using the 12v power adapter and hit the road.
Thinkware U1000 dashcam bundle
The Thinkware U1000 2-Channel bundle comes with both the front and rear cameras, a 12V power cable, an adhesive windshield mount, cable clips, a 32GB microSD Card and a USB microSD card reader.
You also get the Thinkware Hardwiring Kit and an Anti-Glare CPL Filter (which we didn’t fit for this review so we could see how the cam managed without).
Thinkware U1000 Design
The first thing we liked about this dashcam was its design.
Unlike the previous dashcams we have tested, the U1000 is built to look like part of your car’s original equipment, rather than a suction-cupped aftermarket add-on.
Here you have camera lens built-in to a unit that affixes to your windscreen using 3M tape. The dashcam is pretty discreet and, sitting behind your rear-view mirror, less likely to distract you from the road.
On the control panel, you have a trio of buttons for Power, WiFi, and Microphone. The three indicator lights show if the U1000 is connected to a WiFi hotspot, is recording, and connected to GPS.
There is also an additional Recording button to trigger ad hoc capture.
At the front of the unit is the front-facing camera that boasts an 8.42MP Sony Exmor R Starvis image sensor. You can thank this for the crystal clear 4K UHD video quality at 30FPS.
Additionally, the 150° wide-angle lens view minimises blind spots so you can capture every little detail out on the road.
Also, the U1000 features Advanced Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), Intelligent Automatic Exposure and Super Night Vision 2.0. So, no need to worry if things are being captured as bright and dark environments are covered.
The Thinkware U1000 also covers your… rear.
The company actually developed a new rear camera specifically for the U1000.
The U1000 rear camera is equipped with a 5.14MP Sony Exmor R Starvis image sensor. That means that the back camera records in 2K QHD.
Just like the front cam, the rear also comes with a 156° wide-angle lens view and the advanced video enhancement technologies.
From what we can tell, this could well be one of the most potent rear cameras on the market.
As you can imagine, we love added tech, and the U1000 is connected to the Cloud. All you have to do is activate the hotspot on your phone and use the Thinkware Cloud app to connect the cam.
As well as storing the captured videos in the Cloud, the front unit also has a microSD card slot. Ours came with a memory card; however, we had our mobile phone working as a hotspot all the time.
Although, if we had the cam hardwired to the car, the memory card would save video triggered by someone running into our car, etc. The U1000 supports microSD cards up to 128GB.
Thinkware Cloud App
With the app, you also get neat skills such as Geo-Fence, Locate Vehicle and Driving Impact Notification.
The app’s Live View function allows you to watch what is happening in real-time, as long as it’s connected to a hotspot or WiFi. The upshot is that you can monitor your vehicle using your smartphone, no matter where you are.
With Geo-Fencing, you can set up up to 20 different geographic zones, which will send a push notification through the app if the vehicle enters or leaves a pre-configured zone.
The Locate Vehicle function will let you discover the current location of the vehicle using the app.
In the event of an impact, such as a collision, while driving, a Driving Impact push notification will be sent through Thinkware Cloud as well.
In addition to the Driving and Parking Impact Notifications, the U1000 has several driver assistance systems that can deliver audible warning alerts. The alerts rely on the U1000’s built-in GPS, which can track the vehicle’s location, speed, and direction of travel.
The alerts include Fixed Speed Camera Warning, Mobile Speed Camera Zone Warning, Average Speed Zone Warning, and the likes.
Of course, this is where you can access all your saved footage, too.
You can either see front and rear camera captures in separate areas or both captures listed together.
While in this area you can also delete or download selected captures. It’s all very intuitive.
Naturally, some of these skills require the cam to be hardwired and WiFi/hotspot connection.
As the hardwiring of the kit requires a professional, we settled for using the 12v cigarette lighter for power. This does mean that we lose so of the cam’s features, such as automatically recording parked impacts, etc.
However, the rest of the installation was simple. If you are as fussy as us, there will be time taken about hiding cables in the roof liner, under carpets, and the like.
Thinkware does supply plenty of cable length, too. Granted, our little silver box on wheels isn’t the longest of vehicles, but we had plenty of lead to go from front to the rear cam, tracking the cable under carpets as we went.
Additionally, the cable seems to be of good quality as does the 3M tape pads used to secure the cams.
It is then merely getting everything where you want it. For instance, we placed the front cam behind the rear-view mirror and the back cam just below the high-level brake light. The latter was difficult to photograph due to the heavily tinted privacy glass our ride has at the rear.
After that, download the Thinkware Cloud application and connect the front cam to your phone’s hotspot or your WiFi if it is in range. After spending time with the U1000, we are considering getting a Mi-Fi hub for the car or setting up an old phone as a hotspot to keep in the car.
Having the app also helps with positioning your cameras.
Thinkware U1000 Video Quality
I think we can all agree that this is the most crucial aspect. As you can see in the video, both front and rear cameras perform remarkably well.
We have to add here that we didn’t use the supplied filter either. That filter will reduce glare, but we wanted to see how the cam fared without.
We were really impressed by the recording quality – 4K Ultra HD y’all.
Even the rear camera outperformed some of the dashcams we’ve had through here.
The video shows the cam in glorious sunshine, good weather, rain and at night.
A quick note here, after our attempts at compiling the above video.
The Thinkware app appears to compress the video and then, should you download the videos and store them on Google Photos, they get compressed even further.
In short, if you want the full resolution, you are going to have to take the clips straight off the microSD card. But, make sure your video editor plays nice with HVEC – ours required a paid-for upgrade to accept the video taken off of the card.
Furthermore, it wasn’t until after all of that, we discovered that our editing software would only export at 1920×1080 at the most. So, sorry. No 4K video to be had in this clip, but at least you get full HD. You will have to take our word for it that the unadulterated quality you get from this cam is very good indeed.
The Thinkware U1000 is a fantastic bit of kit. We used the supplied cigarette lighter adapter for power so couldn’t test the added parked features.
Now we know just how could this dashcam is we are happy to see if we can buy it and get it professionally installed. We are really that impressed.
Granted, it isn’t cheap, but with the U1000 onboard, you can sit back and relax knowing that your ride is well-protected. Additionally, video from your drive is almost movie quality, so that’s pretty cool too.